Michelmores’ Corporate team has advised M-BIRR, the leading mobile money platform in Ethiopia, on an equity capital investment by DEG, the German development finance institution, and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The team comprised Partner Joe Whitfield and Associate Edwin Richards.
The M-BIRR service provides an alternative to a bank branch by enabling cashless money transfers and payments by mobile phone. By doing so, it is helping improve access to banking services in Ethiopia on a wide scale. The private fintech venture was established in 2009 and supports over one million customers registered on its platform for mobile payments. Six financial institutions in Ethiopia currently partner with M-BIRR and deliver the M-BIRR service.
The new capital is earmarked for the business expansion and for increasing outreach in the country. This will create 60 new jobs at M-BIRR, with additional indirect employment of over 400 in the distribution network.
EIB and DEG join Finnfund as shareholders, alongside the founders, James Noctor and Thierry Artaud.
Joe Whitfield commented:
“More than three quarters of Ethiopia’s population do not have access to banking facilities – we were pleased to have assisted M-Birr with their on-going commitment to advancing financial inclusion in Ethiopia.”
Edwin Richards, Associate on the transaction, added:
“This was a very interesting international deal which encapsulated many of the intricacies of cross-border development finance investments in emerging markets with several jurisdictions involved, including Ethiopia, Ireland, Germany and Finland. We are delighted to have assisted M-Birr to navigate these intricacies in order to get the investment to continue to provide the people of Ethiopia with access to its innovative payment transactions.”
Thierry Artaud, director of M-BIRR commented:
“The Michelmores team was able to navigate the complexities of the multi-jurisdictional nature of this deal to ensure we now have the necessary resources to achieve our ambitious growth plans to provide all Ethiopians with the ability to electronically receive and send money, and pay for goods and services quickly, easily and securely.”